He was 18 on June 12, 1944, when his companions in the Francs tireurs partisans (FTP) of Meymac, communist resistance fighters in Corrèze, killed 47 German soldiers and a French woman close to the Gestapo, before burying them in a mass grave that they had forced them to dig. At 98, Edmond Réveil could no longer keep this “mistake” for him, and confided in a reunion of veterans in 2019.
“France is obliged to return these bodies”
According to a witness, a child at the time, and according to a report from the VDK (German service which deals with the graves of soldiers), consulted by the daily the mountain, a first discreet excavation would have already made it possible to exhume eleven bodies of men in 1967. The revelations of the former resistance fighter will perhaps allow, thanks to a search campaign launched “during the summer” by the National Office of Veterans (Onac), to discover the remaining thirty remains.
“France is obliged to return these bodies, in the name of the Geneva Convention and a Franco-German agreement of 1966 still in force. The mortal remains are under the responsibility of Germany which decides on the place of their regrouping”, explains to AFP Xavier Kompa, director of Onac in Corrèze. The German service VDK will participate in the research by sending a georadar, intended to probe the subsoil. “The remains [éventuellement] found will be analyzed in Marseille. For the moment, we do not know the identities of these men. specifies ONAC to AFP. Nor that of the French woman, whose remains would also be present.
The assassinated soldiers and woman were, according to Edmond Réveil, among the 55 members of the Wehrmacht and the Gestapo taken prisoner during the attack on Tulle, by the FTP resistance fighters on June 8, 1944. The next day, June 9, the German SS division “Das Reich” enters the city and kills by hanging 99 men, before deporting 149 others. Among them, 101 died in concentration camps. It was therefore three days after “the massacre of Tulle” that the Corrèze resistance fighters decided to put their prisoners to death. After a walk of about fifty kilometers through the woods, they would have forced them to dig a pit before shooting them down, relates Edmond Réveil, alias “Papillon”.
About the murdered woman, the former FTP explains to the mountain : “We did not know his identity. Nobody wanted to kill her, it was necessary to draw lots who was to execute her. For the other prisoners, it was [d]are [tireurs] volunteers.” The execution of prisoners constitutes a war crime. The “Butterfly” claims to have chosen not to shoot. “We poured lime on them and we never spoke of it again.” The former resistance fighter now wants their descendants to know their story.